by Laura Del Prete-Conde
Buying at Garage Sales
10 Garage Sale Shortcuts
As a yard sale junkie, I've honed my yard sale skills to help insure that I walk away with a desired item without breaking the bank. First, I'm a working class woman, so when "yarding" (as we call it in my house), my attire is primarily jeans and a t-shirt. There's nothing like watching someone in slacks, a button down shirt and a big gold chain haggle over a few dollars. Who goes to a yard sale dressed to the nines? Contractors. Contractors can often be seen at yard sales purchasing items such as air conditioners, ceiling fans, lighting, etc. to put in homes that they are working on.
Even when not feeling very social, I always say good morning and make a general friendly comment. It puts people at ease, and being friendly can't hurt. People will remember the friendly person and be more willing to work that person.
I always, always bring single dollar bills. It is hard to haggle with someone over money and then whip out a twenty. Also, some people may become insulted if I am trying to get them to drop the price and they see that I have the money. I tuck singles in various pockets. Even if it's just singles, when people see a wad of money, they forget about bargaining. I usually keep them in my front pockets, a couple of fives in my back pocket, a ten in my wallet and any additional money in my ashtray, locked in the car.
This is done to keep me from buying something with a larger price tag that is really not needed and to prevent me from going book crazy and buying all sorts of unneeded books. However, if I like an item enough to go back to the car, it's something that really grabbed me.
Keeping bungee cords in the car is immensely helpful for those larger finds. My husband and I purchased a large steamer trunk for $20 at a yard sale. It wouldn't quite fit in my little car. We crammed it in and used our bungee cords to keep the trunk safe and secure enough to drive home.
Keeping an old blanket in the back of the car is also very helpful. When we were sliding the trunk into the car, the metal closures began to rub against the interior of the car, scratching it. Sliding the blanket under the trunk prevented damage to the car. It'll also keep the car clean if I'm picking up an item that needs to be cleaned up.
Rather than fumbling with the newspaper, we write the yard sales down that we most want to visit, grouping them together by neighborhood. The only time we deter from this is if there is a great description but the sale ends early. We then go to that one first. When I write down the information, I note the date and time that it begins and ends. There is nothing more annoying than hunting around a neighborhood for a yard sale only to realize it was on Saturday and today is Sunday.
Also, I note if the address is street, avenue, lane, etc. My husband bought a TomTom on eBay for me since I'm perpetually lost. With the TomTom, I have to be specific with the location.
My GPS has revolutionized my "yarding." The days of pulling out the maps and figuring out where everything is are over! I plug in the address of the yard sale, and since the information given includes distance and time to get to the address, I can figure out if I really want to make the trek. It's great!
If I'm "yarding" in hopes of making a flip on an item, I do some research first. A flip is when you buy something at a yard sale and then sell it elsewhere. Sometimes the item is new and sometimes the item needs restoring. There are certain books that will always sell well online. I have been known to buy a bunch of books for 50 cents to $1 apiece, spending say $6. Then, I go home, do additional research and resell them for $4 to $8 each. Any books that aren't worth anything, I give away on Freecycle. After all, I already made some money on the others.
If restoring items, I make sure to have the space to store it until it sells. For example, if restoring a china cabinet, I need room to work on it, room to store it, and confidence that it will sell as opposed to taking up space in my work area.
Lastly, I bring a couple of bottles of water. Some of the best yard sales wind up being on the hottest days, and it's hard to have fun and haggle when hot, making it hard to think straight.
Have fun, drive safely, and happy "yarding"!
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